England’s Covid restrictions explained as final stage of roadmap set to be delayed

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The Prime Minister is reportedly set to delay the final easing of Covid-19 restrictions in England – meaning a full return to normality is unlikely for at least another month.

Boris Johnson has said he wants to give vaccinations “extra legs” in “the race between the vaccines and the lockdowns” amid a surge in cases of the more transmissible India variant.

He is expected to postpone the June 21 easing in an announcement on Monday, with reports that the lifting of remaining restrictions could be put back until July 19.

So far Mr Johnson has said he is not planning to tighten up rules that have already been relaxed, meaning activities allowed on May 17 are still likely to be permitted.

Here are some of the measures we expect to remain in place, with Monday’s announcement set to kick ‘freedom day’ into touch.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Social distancing rules are expected to remain in place
(Image: Getty Images)

Social distancing measures and the rule-of-six look set to remain in place for at least another month.

Pubs and restaurants currently need to obey the one-metre-plus rule, where people stay two metres apart or one metre with mitigations like a perspex screen.

Laws ordering venue owners to ensure customers are following the rules remain the same, despite the relaxation on hugging within a group in May. Indoor diners can only meet in groups of six.

There are also limits on how many people can go into entertainment venues like cinemas and theatres that look set to continue.

And outdoor gatherings are capped at no more than 30 people.

SPORTING EVENTS

Fans at a football game
Fans were allowed to return to sports fixtures on May 17 with caps on crowds
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

The Prime Minister’s expected delay will come as a huge blow to big sporting events – including Wembley hosting the Euros.

Group games will have to be capped at a quarter capacity – 22,500 fans – which could rise to around 45,000 by the semis and the June 11 final.

Under the easing of restrictions on May 17 fans were allowed to return to sports fixtures, with outdoor venues permitted capacities of 4,000 people or half-full, whichever is lower.

In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can spread out, up to 10,000 people are able to attend, or grounds can be a quarter-full, whichever is fewer.

Fans can attend sporting events indoors with capacities of 1,000 people or half-full, whichever is fewer.

WEDDINGS

A wedding ceremony
The changes will reportedly affect around 50,000 couples who booked their weddings for the month following June 21
(Image: Getty Images)

Limits on numbers are likely to remain, but the current 30 person cap could be increased.

Officials in the health department fear weddings could could become “super-spreader” events, and government sources told The Telegraph that while the limit on numbers may be raised, some form of cap is likely to remain.

According to The Sun, these changes will affect around 50,000 couples who booked their weddings for the month following June 21.

Hugging is allowed at weddings, in line with people’s own assessment of risk, but dancing and dance floors are not.

Venues must also accord with social distancing rules. But people can hold weddings anywhere it is legally acceptable to do so – such as indoor venues and back gardens in some cases.

FACEMASKS

A woman wears a face mask
It is still a legal requirement to wear a face mask in indoor public settings and on public transport
(Image: Getty Images)

Masks will still be needed in public to stop the Indian variant spreading and bring down case numbers.

It is still a legal requirement to wear a face mask in shops, public transport and other indoor public settings, with offenders facing a £200 fine.

Exemptions remain for under-11s and people who have a medical reason.

There were hopes face masks would no longer be needed from later this month, but the rise of the variant has caused concern and there are warnings the UK faces 100,000 Covid cases every 24 hours by July.

NIGHTCLUBS

A bustling nightclub
The opening of clubs looks likely to be delayed
(Image: REUTERS)

Nightclubs are set to remain shut. The government had been hoping to reopen them from June 21, and earlier this year there were tests to see how this might work.

But the opening of clubs now looks likely to be delayed – and anyone with a club night booked before July 19 could well see it cancelled.

If so, it will be yet another blow for the country’s beleaguered night time economy.

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Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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